How to Find Design Clients (The Practical Side)

Note: This is part 2 of my How to Find Design Clients series and you can find part 1 here.

Last time, we chatted all things creative within your design business. Finding your signature style, creating a killer portfolio and showing off your own brand design. Now we’ve covered the creative, we want to dig into the more practical, business side of design and bringing in clients.

Business Tools That Worked For Me | Online Biz | Creative Designer | Small Business Tips

When you run a business, you need to run a tight ship, even if your mind is drawn more to the creative than the organised. This means we need to get our processes in order and make working with us a really appealing prospect to anyone who comes across your work.

You don’t want to be attracting dream clients with your creative side, but then putting them off because you take too long to quote for the job or your process isn’t in order. This is what we will focus on today. The creative brings them in and the practical keeps them with you and gives you referrals.

The approach I’m going to cover in this part is the 3 P’s - packages, pricing and process. These are all key areas of getting clients to work with you and the more you can perfect each one (there's another P), the more you’ll see the results.


Packaging

First up is packaging. I don’t mean packaging like boxes and bubble wrap, but more the way you offer and arrange your services. Creating great ways to package what you do makes it much easier for potential clients to understand and this makes a much more appealing offer.

For example, if you want to work with a great website designer, which sounds better?

  • A general website design service which isn’t clear on how many pages are included, what platform is used and will take as long as it takes

  • A package deal which includes 5 pages, is built on Squarespace and will be finished in 6 weeks

I’m hoping the second one sounds more appealing to you!

It may seem like we’re limiting our options by offering only certain things but humans like limited options. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and can’t decide what you want because there are too many options. People like certain choices to be made for them, especially in areas they don’t have personal expertise in.

Packaging up your offerings means potential clients can make clear decisions when they work with you and they know exactly what they’ll be getting included. The clarity makes that decision much easier to make.

Bear in mind, packages also make your life so much easier when it comes to planning the work you have to do and booking time into your schedule.

For every package you create you want to include:

  • A general name for the package (e.g. branding & website design)

  • A timescale for the project

  • Exactly what is included

  • A set price or a rough price (we’ll get onto this)

I would also try to stick to three or four packages which encompass everything you can offer as a designer. Remember that you aren’t stuck to these - if someone gets in touch wanted a little extra, that’s fine too! Use the packages as a guide for anything else you want to include.

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Pricing

Pricing is definitely a tough subject to cover and also to think about yourself but pricing is crucial for attracting the right clients. There is a sweet spot when it comes to pricing where you want to price high enough to pay your bills but not so high that you put people off. There are several ways to price your services:

  • Packaged set-pricing

  • Hourly pricing

  • Value-based pricing

Whichever way you price what you do, we want to make sure we get the same outcome - you are receiving enough to cover your bills and your value as a designer.

At time of writing, I don’t have the experience to talk about value-based pricing (although it is something I am experimenting with!) so we will focus on the first two - set prices for packages or charging hourly. Let’s look into both:

Set Pricing

With set pricing, you match a price up with each of your services and charge the same amount to anyone who wants to work with you on that package.

Pros:

You can manage and predict your income more accurately

You know you are getting what the package is worth because you have calculated this beforehand

Cons:

Projects which take longer aren’t accounted for in the price

You may feel like you want to get the work done quicker leading to poor quality

Hourly Pricing

With hourly pricing, you track the time you work on any project using a tool like Toggl and then you bill a set amount for every hour you work.

Pros:

You get paid for all the work you do if the project overruns

Clients get a clear guide of what they are paying for

Cons:

You can’t predict your income with hourly pricing

It discourages you getting projects completed at a quicker rate

As I recommend setting up packages for your products, you may guess that I also recommend packaged, flat-rate pricing. Aside from the pros and cons listed, it helps you organise your business and your income and can set you up for booking clients better than having hourly pricing can.

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Process

The final ‘p’ in the trio is your process. Once you get your pricing and packages sorted, it feels like you have everything sorted and ready to go but I would urge you to spend a good amount of time working on your process. This doesn’t just make your own life easier but it will definitely make your clients lives easier and mean they will be more likely to refer more clients to you.

So what is a process?

A business or design process is a step by step action guide which you follow for every client you have. It stays the same to make sure you always know where you are up to and what you need to do next and it keeps you on track and organised with projects.

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There are a few things you need to include within your design process:

Milestones - Within every project you want milestones to track and match up with different steps in the process. For example, in a branding project, a few milestones would be creating logo concepts, feedback on the logo designs, creating collateral items etc.

Timings - You should have a timescale now for each of your packages, but within this, you want to set yourself and your clients' strict deadlines for when each of the milestones are due to keep the project on track

Start to Finish Plan - We don’t want to just have a process for when we are designing. Our process starts when we get an enquiry and ends when you have followed up with the project launch so you need a plan and steps at every point in between.

Good Business Tools - With any good process comes good tools to support it which help you automate and plan your projects. My personal favourites are Dubsado and Asana for client and project management but there are plenty to choose from, free and paid.

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Once you have your process planned and in place, you will find that when you get clients, they are much easier to manage and fit into your schedule and the organised way you work is a way of attracting more clients. There’s nothing worse than working with someone who misses deadlines or forgets files, you want to be a super professional designer!

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I hope these guides have given you some inspiration for how you can tighten your business ship and organise your design packages, pricing and process for success! Let me know which steps you found most helpful and head back and read part one if you missed it.


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